If you’re not a first-responder or don’t know someone addicted to opioids, you may not have heard of naloxone or Narcan. It’s a drug which helps save lives in case of overdose. Evzio, a type of Narcan manufactured by Kaléo, is an injectable that anyone can use, including non-medical first-responders or opioid users themselves.
In 2014, Kaléo got approval to sell the drug. The first version of Evzio cost $690 for a two-pack.
Then Kaléo got together with Clinton Foundation and lots of other well-respected organizations and individuals.
Two years later, the Evzio Twin Pack costs $4,500 and rising.
Who pays for this? Addicts or opioid users?
Seldom. Most of the buyers for Evzio are local governments, like cities and counties. Or nonprofit organizations that work with substance misuse populations. Or you know: “insurance companies.”
When I first started writing about the Clinton Foundation last year, I noted that their “Health Matters” information included a lot of PR material for Narcan, especially from Kaléo. I read these lengthy, fact-free claims of world-changing pharma thinking, “How can an emergency antidote for overdoses help reduce prescription drug abuse?”
After reading Australian journalist Michael Smith’s extensive coverage of Clinton Foundation and Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) international AIDS/HIV financial schemes I thought, “I can barely understand this — it’s such a tangled web — almost impossibly complex.” I can’t write about something I don’t understand well, so I left the drug-related Clinton Foundation information out of most of the articles I wrote.
But now, the Epi-Pen price gouging controversy has focused attention on spiraling emergency or life-saving drug prices. Epi-Pen manufacturer Mylan, now facing a racketeering suit, is led by Virginia Senator Joe Manchin’s daughter Heather Bresch. Mylan, seemingly by coincidence, is the only US-connected pharma company participating in the Clinton Health Access Initiative’s (CHAI) international HIV/AIDS drug purchase network. The other three CHAI AIDS drug companies are Ciplo, Hetero and Aurobindo, all generic drug manufacturers based in India.
Now I understand that the marketing and business development process followed by Mylan with Epi-Pen and Kaléo with its auto-injectable form of Narcan (Evzio) isn’t isolated or unique. It is the end result of multi-year planned product launches, public relations pushes, and government official/media complicity. The customer who pays is essentially the taxpayer, whether local, state or federal. The product’s need or efficacy has little to no relationship to the price, which is “what the market will bear” in today’s end-stage capitalism environment: in other words, as much as can be cheated, stolen or demanded.
Kaléo went from tiny startup to big player in a ghoulish profiteering end-game after years of opioid overprescription and the re-introduction of heroin and similar drugs to our communities.
The Clinton Global Initiative and Clinton Foundation “worked with” Kaléo and similar companies to apply principles of closed market systems, twisting marketing and product development out of all recognition, facilitating theft of public funds to benefit private companies. In this case, they and their complicit allies in media and government set the stage for Kaléo to make a fortune off a life-saving drug that in a healthier world, wouldn’t need to be used in the first place.
Do you want to make a fortune in pharmaceuticals — maybe even ones associated with a socially-controversial health problem? Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Raise Awareness and do PR
The problem with opioids and health is: they’re shameful and unsavory in most people’s view. That’s a long-time prejudice, and it keeps people from seeking treatment and makes these diseases much worse.
The majority of people who take opioids do so because they’ve suffered an injury or illness and a physician prescribed these grossly-addictive substances. However, the stereotype among many people is that opioid addicts are messed-up junkies nodding off on filthy mattresses in abandoned, graffiti-covered warehouses.
First: make sure the government is helping to get the message out about “opioid addiction.”
According to the“official” Google public health alert, this problem affects 200,000 Americans a year.
To compare this dire-sounding “official alert” to other health-threatening conditions, heart disease affects 1 in 3, or more than 91 million Americans, according to the American Heart Association. The official Google Public Health response for “childhood obesity” states that 3 million children are so-affected, but there is no current “public health alert” warning. As to lung disease (which is not wholly-caused by cigarette smoking), in California alone, the American Lung Association estimates that nearly 4 million Californians are affected by lung disease, including about 650,000 children and 2.3 million adults with asthma. COPD with 1.2 million and lung cancer with a measly 17,000 Californians diagnosed in 2016, round out the list. There is no “public health alert” for lung diseases.
And, rather humorously (or not) — “alcohol abuse” resolves to “alcoholism” in Google. It, too, lacks a “public health alert,” but it does have a helpful illustration.
Step 2: Bring In Brand Ambassadors and “Subject Matter Experts”
Much as the Kardashians sell clothing and makeup, politicians can assist in getting the word out about the dangers of opioid addiction and the need for emergency overdose medication.
Last year when I saw Newt Gingrich and Patrick Kennedy together on television talking about the opioid epidemic and a wonder drug that could combat it, these “subject matter experts” inspired a slightly different reaction than the intended one. These two odd “friends” inspired suspicion, not interest or trust. When Van Jones joined in, I was like “Okay, something is really wrong somewhere.”
Newt has been hammering on opioids for a while and isn’t letting up.
As for Kaléo’s plan to combat opioid addiction, the best-qualified politicians addressed the issue at length, in public, in organized forums. Like this September, 2015 message delivered to east coast officials by Hillary Clinton.
Step 3: Get the Power Players in the Same Room
Back in January 2015, Kaléo CEO Spencer Williamson was delivering a similar stirring message to the Clinton Health Matters Summit in Indian Wells, California. According to the Clinton Foundation, the event “reached” 22 million people via social media.
As noted previously in Clinton Foundation articles, all of the Clinton Foundation US-based “health initiatives” occur in localities where Bill Clinton golfs. In this case, the “Health Matters Summit” coincided with the late January timing of the former Bob Hope Desert Golf Classic, now called Career Builder Classic. But in 2015, the PGA tourney was still sponsored by Humana and another organization with a familiar name.
Reliable print journalism sources aid in informing the public of serious public health crises.
Step Four: Give it Away aka Product Demos or Freebies and Direct Marketing
Just like New York City: they give Evzio packages away free to people at-risk of overdoses. But it’s not free to New York taxpayers.
How many government agencies or nonprofits have received the Kaléo Narcan self-injecting dose packages now sold for $4,500? Stay tuned for future articles with an analysis of this, and a wrap-up of how the backroom scheme is enriching Kaléo, its ownership, and other members of the “public-private partnership.” Still privately-held, Kaléo is now being featured in business publications as a potential 2017 or 2018 IPO [initial public offering].
If you take only one thing from this article, remember that the Kaléo/Clinton health partnership didn’t benefit anyone’s health. It just benefited the health of the investments and bank accounts of the principals of the pharma company and assorted public figures.
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